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Old 11-21-2005, 02:04 PM   #8
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Re: Article: On the Interdependent Nature of Tactics and Strategies by "The Grindstone"

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for reply. Lot of great insights in your reply - keen observations. Your post made me think about some things -- so I'm kind of using it as a springboard…

I imagine all this stuff is going to depend upon how we define Budo -- in particular, what we hold its ultimate objectives to be, and how we believe one goes about obtaining that objective. Historically, I would say that Budo has been many things -- some good, some bad, some deep, some shallow (in my opinion). Moreover, I would say that Budo is still very much in the process of being defined.

In my opinion, this is because it is now more than ever that traditional weapons and hand-to-hand combat are in a position to address the luxuries that can only come when such technologies are no longer the main tools of the martial sciences. It is kind of like this: Once we know how to make stainless steel pots and pans, ceramic pottery can become art. Before we know how to make stainless steel pots and pans, that ceramic pot was just the piece of junk that keeps leaking and that eventually breaks and that I will have to make again. In short, Budo is a kind of luxury of modern warfare. Additionally, Budo is in a key state of existence today because it offers us Moderns a venue away from the plagues of materiality, but it does so in a way that addresses our culture's need for actual experience and for reconciling our fears (and thus our tendency to wage war over material things).

For example, I imagine that if one were to understand Budo as the cultivation of a martial spirit, just about anything could do that -- even hell week in football training does that. Therefore, for me, it makes perfect sense that an Aikido training that is based in kata/kihon waza (or primarily based in such things) can also achieve the same end. Kata/Waza under controlled and/or choreographed conditions could indeed become the vessel in which one could generate feelings and ideas of a martial presence. It would indeed not require that martial practicality be a part of such training. Let us not forget that martial spirit in Japanese history has been (or at least believed to have been) cultivated through things wherein no combat has taken place (real or mock). Zazen functioned in this way, for example, during the first half of the 20th century. Other types of physical austerities have also been understood in this way throughout Japanese history. In short, we do not necessarily have to fight to develop a martial spirit.

However, what if Budo was not simply about the cultivation of a martial spirit? What if Budo training is about a reconciliation of the subject/object dichotomy, through which one could fuse a moral philosophy/practice of love, harmony, and union onto the very core of one's being? To do this, one will require a practice that truly does seek to penetrate to the core of one's being. For Aikido to do this, in my opinion, we cannot have it remain of mock battles and/or of choreographed movements. It must remain real -- which is to say it must place us in the very nature of reality itself. Our training must move away from Kihon Waza at some part and fully into the realm of the unknown and of pure potential. For me, there is no other way of understanding Budo and/or the phrase "takemusu aiki." For me, this means that fighting skill is not a thing we can contrast in opposition to something like spiritual maturity -- Budo does not present them as choices. Rather it uses the development of one toward the development of the other.


David M. Valadez
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